Rufus Pilgrim - The future of the UK Potato Industry - Learnings from successful supply models
I live in Lincolnshire, and started working in the Potato industry in 1993. I am the Commercial Director, responsible for the fresh potato division, of R S Cockerill in York; supplying the discount retailers and foodservice sector. In addition, the business are long standing suppliers to Pepsico; Walkers Crisps in the UK. We are a long established, privately owned company that has grown considerably in recent years. Both sectors of the business are involved in managing all aspects of the potato supply chain; from innovation, through seed sourcing, storage, added value processes and logistics. On top of this, we grow potatoes ourselves in the Vale of York.
While at Shuttleworth Agricultural College, I developed an interest in root crop production, and potatoes especially. Then as now, I’m still fascinated by the breadth, challenges and diversity of the potato industry. I started out as a Fieldsman in Lincolnshire, eventually progressing to be a Procurement Manager, buying potatoes throughout the UK, and from abroad. Most of my career has been spent on the supply side, but my roles have diversified in recent years, getting more involved in operational aspects, innovation and new business development. Acquiring these skills has culminated in the commercial role I hold now, and I want to develop them further. I am passionate about this industry, and want to examine the issues that determine its future in a much wider context.
Outside work, I’m married to Helen, and have two girls; Lucy and Abbie. I enjoy spending time with them, helping them to pursue their interests; mainly as their taxi driver! Until recently, I was Chairman of the local school Governing body, getting involved in merging it with a neighbouring village school to secure its future. The rest of my spare time is spent trying to maintain a modest level of fitness by cycling and running.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the AHDB for their generosity in sponsoring my Nuffield Scholarship.